A favorite spot for day trippers and music festival-goers, Governor’s Island is now the weekend getaway of every New Yorker’s dreams, thanks to the newly-opened glamping outfit Collective Retreats, which offers overnight stays, an extended ferry schedule that runs until 11 pm on Saturdays and 10 pm on Fridays, and new restaurants and art projects cropping up along the 172 acres.
After spending 24 hours on the island paradise, our photographer Cody Guilfoyle shares his photo diary and top picks.
A four-minute ferry ride across the East River, the Manhattan skyline trailing behind you in the distance, and you arrive at the leafy oasis. Sure beats traffic jams and subway delays.
Walking into the Collective Retreats tents feels like being in Marfa, Texas—with views of the Statue of Liberty. You basically get desert vibes meets waterfront cool. In other words, totally surreal in the best way possible.
The airy canvas tents are minimal but warm, with colorful plush rugs, comfy seating, wood floors, and rustic-modern touches. Basically, like walking into a chic camp set-up that we’d gladly swap with our New York digs. (Think: a rain-style shower, a private deck, and a wood-burning stove.)
When you’re ready to explore, Island Oyster (from the crew behind Grand Banks) is the spot to grab a cocktail and soak up the views. Order a dozen local oysters with the refreshing (and aptly named) Fair Winds Fizz, a punchy mix of fassionola, orgeat, and Grey Goose that matches the sunset views—and just might be the island’s unofficial drink of the summer.
The entire island is car-free, so bikes are your primary mode of zipping around. Blazing Saddles rents bikes, and there are Citi Bike stations at the ferry landings. Or, kick back in an Adirondack chair for some old-school coastal chilling. (The Downtown Boathouse also offers free kayaks if you want to get out on the water.)
The yellow-painted homes of military officers and their families who lived on the island in the 19th century are now part of Nolan Park, a cultural hub with open artist studios, pop-up shops from local brands, and installations like the Rare Air experimental neon gallery.
Craving a little culture now that your wilderness immersion has taken hold? Head to the ethereal Jacob Hashimoto installation titled The Eclipse—a collection of thousands of delicate paper kites within the newly reopened St. Cornelius Chapel. (You can also catch his contrasting work made of wooden cubes, Never Comes Tomorrow, outside on the grounds.)
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